Schoolgirl ‘left in tears’ after being fined £100 by train inspectors who accused her of being an adult

Leila Sanger was accused of lying about her age (Naomi Sanger / SWNS)
Leila Sanger was accused of lying about her age (Naomi Sanger / SWNS)

Train ticket inspectors gave a 14-year-old girl a £100 fine after accusing her of being an adult - despite her wearing school uniform at the time.

Leila Sanger said she was left in tears after being accused by two male train guards of lying about her age in order to travel using a child’s ticket.

Despite wearing her uniform and having a student lanyard around her neck, the schoolgirl was handed a fine of just over £104, as the inspectors believed she was older and so not entitled to a child’s fare.

But Leila said she was in her uniform with a student lanyard and even had with her a Southeastern ID card.

She was stopped on 25 May as she changed trains at Strood, Kent, to get to her home in nearby Snodland.

The teenager regularly uses the service to go to and from school in Gravesend, Kent, but now says she is scared to go back to the station as she fears she will see the two men again.

Mother Naomi Sanger, 43, said: “She was in school uniform and was wearing a student lanyard and possessed a Southeastern ID card.

“Two male officers told her she was a liar, issued her with a £104.40 penalty charge notice and then proceeded to demand to go through her mobile phone to contact me.

“She tried calling me, but I couldn’t answer as I was in a meeting.

“So instead they scrolled through her phone looking at her messages - invading her privacy.

“They were gas-lighting her, stating that she had said she was 15 previously, which she hadn’t. She was shaken up and in tears when she came home.”

The next day, Leila would not use the train to go to school.

Mrs Sanger said: “I ended up taking time off work to take her to and from school.”

The incident took place on a Southeastern Railways train in Kent (SWNS)
The incident took place on a Southeastern Railways train in Kent (SWNS)

Leila’s mother complained to the rail operator and the fine was cancelled.

But she said she received no apology for the way her daughter was treated or assurance that the inspectors would not behave in a same way again.

The project planner added: “Leila does look older than her age, a lot of girls do these days.

“But there is a way of asking her age, and even issuing a fine if they still didn’t believe her, that does not involve this level of intimidation.

“Leila was wearing school ID that said she was in Year 9, which should have told them she was only 13 or 14.

“Now she’s been left afraid to travel by train and I’m not sure how I will get her to school now.”

Siobhan Bradshaw, the general manager for enforcement at Southeastern, suggested a school lanyard and Southeastern ID card was insufficient proof of age for a child ticket.

She said: “We can confirm a penalty fare was cancelled, but we do not routinely comment on ongoing investigations.

“We do expect colleagues to be professional and courteous at all times.

“But we also believe it’s reasonable to ask for proof of age if a younger customer looks older than 15 and asks for a child fare.

“On occasions when they’re unable to provide this, they may be liable to pay the adult fare.

“To avoid any unnecessary confusion, we’d recommend carrying an official proof of age such as a Citizen Card or a Validate UK Card.”